Little hope for across-the-board teacher raises as more special sessions expected

Published: Jun. 5, 2023 at 12:06 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 5, 2023 at 12:10 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Special legislative sessions in Texas are expected to continue.

During the last regular session, one item not passed was raises for state educators. Now those who work in the education industry are pushing for raises elsewhere.

“If there was ever going to be a time to show appreciation for not only teachers, but school employees, sports staff, that are so poorly paid in the state of Texas, this was the time,” Clinton Gill, a staffer with the Texas State Teachers Association, said.

Going into the session, there was an extra $33 billion some hoped could go to pay increases.

House Bill 100 was even introduced, which included teacher raises. But it failed to pass after legislators attached a provision allowing school vouchers in Texas.

“It’s unfortunate that politics played a role in this,” Gill said.

The vouchers, pushed by Gov. Greg Abbott, would have included $8,000 for any student in Texas for private school tuition if they were unsatisfied with their public school.

The bills failure and voucher’s inclusion prompted the superintendent of the Lamesa Independent School District to put out a community letter. In that letter David Ritchey wrote, teachers are, “being held hostage by the efforts of some to take your public money and give it to the private sector for the first time in the history of our great state.”

“(Lubbock Educators Association) asks that as you pass a budget, any salary increases reflect the most that you believe is possible to not have a deficit or large surplus at the end of the year,” Lauren Smith, president of the Lubbock Educators Association said.

Now, educators are going to school boards asking for raises, something brought up in front of the Lubbock Independent School District board recently by the LEA.

“While pay isn’t everything, we know that it plays a big part in attracting and retaining staff, especially in our area,” Smith said during the meeting.

Even though working teachers missed out on raises, retired teachers could get a bonus check and the first cost-of-living pay increase since 2013.

But, that has to go in front of voters this November before it can be ok’d.

Looking forward, the state teachers association is hopeful raises will be brought up in future special sessions called by the governor, even though he has been more vocal about his support for school vouchers.

“We hope he will just put a stand-alone raise for public school employees as a topic, either in this upcoming session or one over the summer,” Gill said.